With on-going research into the treatment and prevention of dementia, it is hard to be definitive. However, many studies do point to the same conclusion: a diet rich in fish, fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent and perhaps treat dementia.
This is a brief overview of the main nutrients associated with the condition and notes about their supplements. More research into each is recommended.
Omega-3, a vital fatty acid for brain function and repair, seems important: present in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna, it is easily incorporated into the diet as part of a main meal. Studies have shown that one portion a week is beneficial, although two servings are preferable. Other sources of this powerful nutrient include walnuts and pecan nuts which can be served as snacks or added to breakfast cereal. Eggs also contains some Omega-3. Many people do supplement, although caution is recommended here.
A recent study from Germany in 2012 has confirmed much previous research: Vitamin C can be beneficial to dementia conditions. It acts as a powerful anti-oxidant in the body, clearing toxins that can potentially cause a range of health problems, including dementia.
In some ways, it is the most easily accessible vitamin, present in a range of attractive, palatable and versatile fruit and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, oranges, blackcurrants and potatoes.
The simplest way to obtain 75% RDA-recommended daily allowance-of Vitamin C is through a 100ml glass of not-from-concentrate orange-juice. The remaining 25% should be taken as food.
The UK Department of Health stresses that Vitamin C should be taken daily and that supplements up to 1000mg are acceptable.
One vitamin researched in a respected American-based study is Vitamin E during which it was found that some patients with mild dementia showed a good response to it.
In its food form, sources of Vitamin E include almonds, avocado, hazelnuts, kiwi fruit and broccoli. For supplementation, the NHS recommends no more than 540mg per day, which is some way above the 3-4mg RDA.
Research into dementia continually brings this nutrient to the fore. Beta-carotene gives vegetables and fruit their bright colour and equally boosts brain-power. Think of carrots again, steamed or roasted, bright yellow peppers-equally tasty cooked or raw-and the less popular, but easily recognised, spinach.
Slightly more exotic fruits such as mangos and melons are good sources too. Although a little more expensive than many fruits, their sweetness does make them an appealing choice for sufferers.
Although some studies have advocated therapeutic supplements for dementia patients, the UK Department of Health is cautious, not recommending supplements of over 7g because of potential side effects.
It is accepted that many sufferers of dementia show some deficiency in B12 or folate, although this often presents with other problems. Milk, eggs and rice can be eaten to ensure a plentiful supply. Supplements of up to 200g a day can be taken for short periods, though recommended only for a deficiency.
As research continues, there is no doubt that a diet containing these nutrients will at the very least ensure a healthy regime and a better sense of well-being, both of which will aid the management of this difficult condition.